knitting

The Great London Yarn Crawl

Last weekend I joined with fellow yarnies and took part in the Great London Yarn Crawl. Organised by Yarn in the City the event has been running for 4 years now and it’s a day for crafters to take a tour of some of the wonderful haberdashery and yarn shops that London has to offer.

There were 12 teams this year, each with a planned route to visit 3 or 4 shops. I was on Team Mosaic, one of the 4 shop routes.

On Saturday morning, my friend Vero and I braved the rain and caught the train to London where we were to meet the others at a coffee shop in Angel and get acquainted over tea and cake, and receive our goodie bags full of yarny treats!

glyc

The first stop on our route was Ray Stitch, a sewing and haberdashery shop in Angel, Islington.

ray-stitch

Full of beautiful fabrics, buttons and books…I was very tempted to buy a pattern and some fabric but I stopped myself as I know it will lead me down a whole other rabbit hole! So I settled for a selection of pretty buttons and scissor charms.

Buttons.jpg

Next up was Loop. I have visited this shop before and already knew it would be where I spent most of my budget for the day…this shop is yarn heaven!

loop

Just look at all these pretties…

loop-yarn-shop

Needless to say I didn’t come out of there empty handed. I bought 2 skeins of Dye for Yarn which I want to match up with some Hedgehog Fibre yarn I already have. And I got a pretty little needle measurer too  🙂

dye-for-yarn

And the one thing I had been lusting after for ages….a Japanese knitting stitch book! I have been trying to find one of these for ages but they are not easy to come by. This was top of my list for the day and I was over the moon to find it!

japanese-knitting-book

We stepped out of Loop, back into the rain and found a pub for lunch.

Fully refreshed we carried on our journey by Bus to Stoke Newington, the home of Knit With Attitude

knit-with-attitude

Part of the shop was also a gallery with interesting art prints, jewellery and gifts. If you ever find yourself in Hackney this is one shop well worth a visit, and the staff were so friendly and helpful too!

The last shop on our route was another 2 bus rides away, across to North London to Fringe.

fringe

A real treasure trove of a store, there was so much to see – and they also had a pop up event with knitwear designer Erika Knight!

fringe-london

As we walked into the shop we were handed gift bags by the staff containing 3 balls of vintage mohair yarn. The lady told us that one day a man came into the store with bags of yarn which belonged to his late wife. She had been a knitwear designer and made some beautiful garments that had appeared in magazines.

fringe-yarn-shop

Just…wow!

fringe-glyc

Her husband wanted her yarn to go to people who would appreciate it, so he donated it to the shop. Isn’t that a lovely gesture? Unfortunately we don’t know the name of the designer but I’ll certainly be putting her yarn to good use at some point in the future.

vintage-yarn

And so, weary but happy we caught a train back to Moorgate where all of the teams came together to wrap up the day, show off our new purchases and have a well deserved drink! There was also a raffle to raise money to the supported charity, Refuge.

It was a brilliant day, very well organised and I met some lovely fellow knitters too. Now to get that lovely new yarn on the needles…

Until next time, happy knitting! x

Shenanigans, The Month That...

April: The month that…

And yet another month flies by! April was a fun month, and although there was slow progress on any knitting it was all for good reason. So here we go, April: the month that…

We Had a Party

April was kickstarted with Mr. A’s birthday BBQ on the first bank holiday weekend. Luckily for us the sun shined for most of the day and we celebrated with friends and one or two drinks. We made a summer cocktail in our new drinks dispenser (a Christmas present from Mr. A’s parent’s) which went down very well!

Cocktail on tap

As much as I love a good party I always under estimate the amount of prep work and tidying that has to be done beforehand. As such my crafty ‘workstation’ in the kitchen had to be dismantled and temporarily boxed up to free up the kitchen table. So that meant very little knitting for a whole week! On the upside, the kitchen had never been so clean and sparkly 😉

We Looked at Lady Sheds

I have always dreamed of having my own craft room as knitting in the kitchen isn’t ideal, especially when we need the kitchen table! Add to that I have books and skeins of yarn stashed away all over the place, it would be sooo nice to have somewhere more permanent to set up station! So Mr. A and I got talking as lately he has been thinking about getting into woodwork and learning to use a lathe. Add to that that the garden is in need of a bit of a makeover and I think we may have found a solution….our very own garden log cabin studio / workshop!

This is the kind of thing we are thinking of:

FifthAvenueDuoMaxi_l

It has 2 separate compartments so Mr. A can set up his lathe in the shed end and I could have my very own craft room in the pretty summerhouse end! I’m trying not to get my heart set on anything as we still have to work out the costings and our garden isn’t massive so we need to think about space, but we did go to a local dealer and have a look round some options. They even had a similar model on display so we were able to get a better feel for it.

Cabin

Wouldn’t THAT be amazing! It would be small – but it would be bigger than a kitchen table 😉

I Discovered that Knitting can be Bad for the Diet

Work saw me travel up to Manchester in April and rather than drive I saw 3.5 hours on a train as valuable knitting knitting time. And boy did I knit, I cast on a sock at the beginning of the journey and managed to knit the leg and the heel flap by the time I got to Manchester Piccadilly!

Sock

However I did consume a hot chocolate, a kit kat and a chocolate cookie on my travels – I don’t think that’s any coincidence when the yarn looks good enough to eat, haha! I never saw knitting as bad for the diet before but now I’m starting to wonder…

I pretty much finished this sock on the return journey. It’s a shame the 2nd sock hasn’t been such a quick affair, it’s been over a month in the making and I have only just turned the heel!

We went to the Handel & Hendrix House

Mr. A and I do love a day out in London and as Mr. A is a keen musician and guitarist we decided to check out the Handel & Hendrix house in Mayfair. Handels house, 25 Brook Street, was opened as a museum in 2001 and showcases carefully restored Georgian period rooms on the first and second floors. More recently the space in the adjoining house number 23, has been opened up as a museum to celebrate the time Jimi Hendrix spent there in the 1960’s.

Left: Handels Rehearsal and Performance Room – Almost all his works after 1723, amongst them many of his best-known operas, oratorios and ceremonial music, were composed and partially rehearsed in the house, which contained a variety of keyboard instruments, including harpsichords, a clavichord and a small chamber organ (text taken from Wikipedia)

Right: Handels bedroom (where he is believed to have died).

Up the stairs, Jimi Hendrix’s flat used to be used as admin offices for the Handel’s House until it was opened as a museum earlier this year. The exhibition documents his time spent in London during 1968-69 when he lived there with his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham. Unlike Handel’s House there was only one room recreated to show what it would have looked like when he lived there and that was the bedroom.

Every item in the room had been sourced and curated based on photographs taken at the time of his residence. It was so well done, it almost felt as if he was going to step back into the room at any moment.

And check out this giant knitted dog bear given to him by a fan. How cool is he!

Hendrix Bear

The rest of the flat had been turned into exhibition space, full of photos, records and memorabilia of his time there. On walking out there was just a small framed newspaper cutting announcing his death – it was a very poignant end to the celebration of his short time in London.

We ‘Cooked’ Cocktails in an RV

From Mayfair we hotfooted it over to Shoreditch as we had tickets to a pop up breaking Bad themed bar in Shoreditch! If you have seen the show you may recognise this…

Breaking bad RV

At 6pm the doors opened and about 20 of us piled into the RV to begin a ‘cooking session’. We were seated at our table and instructed to put on our protective clothing…

Cocktail makers

And the cooking began!

IMG_7522

We were given a base cocktail made with our spirit of choice (we went for gin). The first one up was a ‘505’ made with lychee, rose, maple martini and gin – but it was down to us to add the dry ice smoke infusion!

Cooking cocktails

Oh my, it was delicious!

Next up was the ‘Fly’ – gin with cranberry caviar, creme de mure, xanthum gum and a few other things I can’t recall…

breaking bad cocktailAnd this one used a whipper to infuse it with nitrogen cavitation!

breaking bad cocktails

Yum.

Finally we had ‘the cocktail that changes flavour’. We were given a really sharp citrussy cocktail, so sour that it made me wince. We were instructed to take a sip and then pop the pill (the pill being a berry fruit pill that miraculously turns sour things into sweet)

Berry pill cocktail

What a difference, the cocktail tasted amazing from thereon and we could even suck the lemon wedges without pulling funny faces haha!

So that was April, it turned out to be a rather boozy affair – and a lot of fun!

I’ll be back soon with more knitty posts as the needles have been very busy of late 🙂

Have a great week whatever you get up to! x

knitting

A Visit to the Chanel to Westwood Knitwear Exhibition

I had been meaning to go to the Chanel to Westwood Knitwear exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey ever since it opened last September. Nicky Barfoot posted a blog about the exhibition a few weeks ago – do check Nicky’s blog out as the collection inspired her to re-work some beautiful 1940’s vintage patterns and the results are beautiful! So on that reminder I dug out the leaflet and realised it ended on 18th Jan. Eek! Luckily I was working in London last Thursday, which also happens to be late night opening at the museum. I left work a little early and took the 30 min walk to the venue over Tower Bridge. There is something magical about London at dusk…

London at Dusk

On display at the museum was the private collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield who have a passion for collecting knitted and crocheted garments.

Below are some of my favourite pieces / collections from the exhibition. (Photography was not permitted in the museum so most of the pictures below have been taken from the FashionTextile – Chanel to Westwood Pinterest Board)

 Les Sportives – A collection of knitted swim and leisurewear. The 1920’s brought new freedom to younger people after the first world war. Their lifestyles became more active and knitwear needed to be functional in fit and movement as well as fashionable. My favorite piece from this collection was the fine knit blue and white floral bathing suit at the front.

FTM - Swimwear

Fashionable Folk – The trend of folklore and traditional European themes was strong in the 1930’s and 40’s.

FTM - Folk

Make Do and Mend – During the Second World War the government encouraged the re-use of clothing. This collection showcased sweaters that had been re-made by unravelling old ones and using the yarns to make new multicolored garments. My favourite was second from the left, it had a really interesting stitch pattern but unfortunately you can’t see it from this photo.

FTM - Make do and mend

The Fair Isle collection

Fair Isle - FTM

The Novelty Knits – perhaps my favourite collection from the whole exhibition were these brightly colored, bold sweaters from the 1970’s and 80’s.

FTM - 1970's

The Ice Cream Sundae pullover by Dana Originals was especially striking.

Ice Cream Sundae Jumper

I’m so glad I managed to catch this exhibition before it ended, it was well worth the visit. I also found some inspired items in the gift shop, but will save those for another blog post!

Music, Theatre, Travel

Rocking Out in London Town!

As far as week’s go, this one has been a pretty eventful with not just one, but two brilliant visits to the capital!

On Saturday my wonderful husband surprised me with a day out in the City for our anniversary. I didn’t know what was planned apart from we had to be in the Liverpool Street area for 2.30pm. Liverpool Street is in the Financial District of London and not known for being a hubbub of activity at the weekends so I was very intrigued…but not for long as I soon found out that we were booked in for lunch at City Social in Tower 42!

Natwest Tower - London

City Social is an art deco style restaurant on the 24th floor of the tower with stunning views across London.

Views from Tower 42

Above is the Heron Tower, the Walkie Talkie and the Shard, and the Gherkin. The food at City Social was top notch and being there for a good few hours we saw the sun set over the city.

Sunset over London

The Gherkin

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. By the time we left night had truly descended so we took a walk through London under the Christmas lights onto our next destination – the West End! For the evening we had tickets to go and see the play Neville’s Island starring the comedy actors Neil Morrissey, Robert Webb, Miles Jupp and my husbands hero – Adrian Edmondson.

Nevilles Island

Nevilles Island is a comedy by Tim Firth and tells the story of 4 businessmen shipwrecked in the Lake District as part of a corporate team building excercise. It was a very funny play!

On Wednesday night we found ourselves back in London courtesy of Mr. A’s work. His company hosted a gala dinner at the Roundhouse in Camden and put us up in the Cumberland Hotel for the night. I couldn’t believe it when I got to our room –  Mr. A had asked if we could have the Jimi Hendrix suite, not thinking for one minute that it would be available – but it was, and it was awesome! We both love Jimi Hendrix’s music and this room was where he did his last interview.

The Hendrix Suite

Jimi Hendrix Suite

We felt like rock stars as we got ready in this suite – and did I mention that it had 2 bathrooms?!

From Oxford St we headed over to Camden to the legendary Roundhouse. The Roundhouse started life in 1847 as a shed for maintaining and restoring goods engines but is now an iconic cultural venue. It looked beautiful inside all lit up.

Camden Roundhouse

The evening was fantastic and was topped off with a brilliant performance from Spandau Ballet!

Spandau Ballet

I felt so lucky to have been invited to such a wonderful event. We got back to the hotel and the party continued, eventually seeing us crawl into bed at 5.30am – boy were we both glad we booked yesterday off work!

Art

Adventures in London Town

We had a brilliant time in London this weekend. I really wanted to catch the Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern before it ends this week. BUT like a fool I didn’t even think about pre-booking tickets, I just thought we could breeze straight in, but no. We arrived at 3pm only to be told that the next available slot was 7pm!

Luckily our visit to London was 3 fold. We were also going to Covent Garden to surprise my Mum for her birthday and then stopping over with my husbands parents. So we booked the exhibition for 6pm on Sunday and took a leisurely stroll through Southbank over to Covent Garden.

On our journey we saw the Dazzle Ship.

The Dazzle Ship

Dazzle Ship

This is the HMS President (1918) which served during the First World War. The ‘dazzle’ camouflage on this ship was done by Tobias Rehberger and the original purpose of such a design was to confuse enemy U-boat captains.

In Covent Garden we successfully surprised my Mum who was there on a day out with her friend and enjoyed a cheeky glass of Pimms 🙂

On our way back we passed the London Film Museum where my husband stopped dead in his tracks. They are currently exhibiting a large collection of James Bond vehicles. Now marriage is about give and take right? He was willing to come to Matisse with me so surely it was only fair that I returned the cultural favour. And as it turns out it actually it was quite interesting!

Here are a few of the cars that caught my eye. Not because I could admit to recognising them from the film (I know, shame on me) but because they were lovely. Here are the Rolls Royce Phantom III and the Aston Martin DBS from Goldfinger.

Rolls Royce Phanton III Goldfinger

Aston Martin DBS Goldfinger

What I also found fascinating was seeing the storyboards that are created for films. I am not a film buff and I have never really thought about how much work goes into making a film before, but seeing each camerashot sketched out like this really opened my eyes. The scene below was from Skyfall.

Skyfall Storyboard

We eventually arrived at the in-laws late Saturday eveining. It was lovely to see them. After Sunday lunch Mr. A disappeared for a while only to come back downstairs with a couple of ‘finds’. Of the old vintage camera variety.

2014-08-31 15.03.01

2014-08-31 15.10.19

We searched online to see if we could find any film for them. Unfortunately, they stopped producing film for the polaroid ‘swinger’ in 1970!! However we have found a film for ‘The Button’ and duly ordered a couple. Stand by for some polaroid fun in a future post!

After saying our goodbyes we headed back into London Town for the much anticipated Matisse Exhibition. We parked our car in the Mansion House area, and as we exited the car park we came out at Baynard House and came across an interesting sculpture of Shakespeare’s 7 Ages of Man by Richard Kindersley. Constructed in a totem pole style it depicts the aging process from the youngest at the bottom to the oldest at the top. What doesn’t really come across in this photo is that the top head, the old man, actually looks quite skull-like from certain angles.

The 7 Ages of Man

From here we walked over the Millennium Bridge. You can’t beat London when the sun is shining.

London

We made it to the Tate Modern bang on 6pm and the exhibition didn’t disappoint.

Matisse Cut Outs

You couldn’t take photo’s in the exhibition but here are 3 of my favourites.

‘Icarus’ – I have always loved this image and I used to have a large print of this hanging in my old flat and what struck me when I saw it was that it was a lot smaller than I had expected. But the impact of seeing the original was still immense.

matisse icarus

Photo from http://www.tate.org.uk/about/press-office/press-releases/henri-matisse-cut-outs

I was fascinated by some of the ‘wall’ pieces. Matisse cut out these shapes and pinned them to the walls of his apartments in Paris and Venice. Called ‘Oceania, the Sky’ it began by Matisse cutting out a swallow shape from a piece of writing paper, and not wanting to tear it up or disregard it he pinned it to his wall to cover up a stain. Over the following weeks more shapes followed, including fish, coral, birds and leaves. According to the guidebook for the exhibition he was inspired by a visit to Tahiti 16 years earlier and quotes ‘There, swimming every day in the lagoon, I took such intense pleasure in contemplating the submarine world’

Oceania, the Sea 1946 matisse

Picture taken from http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/apr/20/henri-matisse-the-cut-outs-tate-modern-review-laura-cumming

I don’t know if it is the colours or the shapes of this piece, but it also makes me think of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Finally, The Creole Dancer. I just love this. The colours, the movement – it just makes me smile. And at the giftshop it was my fridge magnet of choice 🙂

Matisse Creole Dancer 1950

The pieces were complemented by film footage showing how Matisse worked on these cut outs in his later years, instructing his assistants on where to place the shapes. I am so glad we caught this exhibition before it closed.

On our way home we drove through Trafalgar Square. Here are the final few pictures of a great weekend.

The London Eye

The London Eye.

Nelsons Column

Nelsons Column.

I do love London!

Art

What’s the Point of It?….

…..is the question posed by the artist Martin Creed at his latest exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Before I go any further I must point that I am by no means an art critic, I know the basics having studied art in college but that was a while ago. This review is purely an account of my own personal experience and reactions to the pieces on show.

My friend and I had set aside the day to go and see ‘The Light Princess’ at the National Theatre. Being a Saturday we were booked in for the matinee performance and had some time to spare beforehand. This exhibition was on nearby and I was so intrigued. I vaguely remember Creed’s work back from 2001 when he  won the Turner Prize for his work No 227 ‘The lights Going On and Off’ and I remember having a giggle to myself and thinking ‘really?!’.

Really. And this exhibition turned out to be the best one I have been to for years. Never have I been to an exhibition where I have properly laughed out loud, been shocked, bemused, impressed, confused and entertained so much in one go.

Let’s start from the beginning. You walk through the doors and are immediately confronted with a giant, illuminated ‘Mother’s’ sign that spins over the whole room at a height of 6 foot 6 inches, meant to symobilse the powerful and sometimes overbearing nature of motherhood. Even though I am 5 foot 4 this constant swooping overhead was a little too close for comfort. We quickly exited this room into room 2, and where the fun began.

M_new

Image taken from – http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/festivals-series/martin-creed/martin-creed-m-r

Room 2 housed some of Creed’s drawings and sculptures. Ranging from doodles to stacks of boxes and chairs (all arranged in size order of course)

martin-creed2

 

Image taken from http://capsuleshow.com/post/international-art-listings?from=tag:moma

There were a number of single colour pictures here, many made using marker pens. They reminded us of the problem that you always encounter when using felt tips and trying to colour in a large space. There is always an overlap which creates lines and patches of darker colour. A particular favorite was a series of ‘colouring’s’ in room 4 where it would seem that Creed raided a stationary cupboard of its highlighters and tested each one out on a piece of A4 paper, covering the entire surface with lines. Bold, yet brilliant.

Back in room 2 a man was sat at a piano, pressing each key in turn, running up and down the scale.

We ascended the stairs only to be confronted by a wall of broccoli prints. Over 1000 each in a different colour.

Work No 1000 Martin Creed

Work No 1000: 1,000 prints made with broccoli. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

According to the Martin Creed A-Z that we were handed as we walked in ‘Creed made his first broccoli print as the cover for a vinyl record. Realising that his favorite vegetable is the size of a seven inch single, he decided to cut in half and make an image’. Although not just one…. it became 1,000 – he made one with each different paint that he could find.

The upper galleries also contained some external work on the terraces.

Terrace A) Work 1029. As I passed through the gallery doors onto the outside terrace I was not expecting to be faced with a large-scale projection of a penis slowly erecting and then collapsing. My friend and I, mostly out of shock, had a good giggle but then it became a bit awkward as we were joined by strangers on the terrace – we didn’t know where to look at that point!

Terrace B) Work 1812. A large brick wall made with an array of colored bricks arranged in stripes. Probably better appreciated back in the gallery when viewed through work 990: A curtain opening and closing. The outside world becomes slowly revealed but the view is obscured by a great big brick wall.

Terrace C) Work no: 1686. A Ford Focus car parked with doors shut and engine off. Every few minutes the car comes to life: the doors open ,the engine turns on, the windscreen wipers sweep,the  headlights flash, the radio blares. Then it all stops! And repeat.

We were joined on the terrace by a very jolly man who found the whole set up extremely amusing. He had just come from the Paul Klee exhibition at the Tate and (in his words) found it a little bit pretentious compared to this.

Perhaps my favorite piece was work 22: Half the Air in a given space.

B

 

Image taken from http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/festivals-series/martin-creed/martin-creed-a-e

Here was a room where half the air is contained in balloons – the visitor was invited to enter and experience the playful yet claustrophobic space. Personally, I didn’t feel the claustrophobia, however I did come out with very big hair due to the static!

As we came out of the balloon room we went back into gallery 5 where there is a piano installation that is set up to go off every 15 minutes. With a few minutes to spare until the piano was activated we got chatting to the security guard. he couldn’t help but draw our attention to Creed’s work no. 79: Some blu-tack kneaded, rolled into a ball, and depressed against a wall (1993). ‘Have you seen that?’ he said, ‘yes’ we replied, ‘isn’t it brilliant!’. He laughed and then activated the piano (work no: 569) to slowly open the piano lids and then slam them shut again. The lady stood next to us was worried about the damage such slamming would inflict on the piano and quickly hurried away. We watched it slam down a couple more times and then headed down the stairs to watch  ‘sick and shit’.

work569

Image taken from: http://martincreed.com/site/works/work-no-569

So from pieces of paper torn up, crumpled, rolled into a ball, folded and flattened out, to an array of items ranging from cacti to industrial nails arranged in order of size, things piled on top of each other and the exploration of bodily functions, this exhibition really does leave you with the question – what exactly is art?

The fact that my friend and I set out to to see a musical, but spent the best part of the way home talking about this exhibition, speaks volumes.

Whether you class it as art or not, in my eyes Martin Creed is an absolute genius.